Robotics is a branch of engineering that involves the conception, design, manufacture, and operation of robots. This field overlaps with electronics, computer science, artificial intelligence, mechatronics, nanotechnology and bioengineering.
Science-fiction author Isaac Asimov is often given credit for being the first person to use the term robotics in a short story composed in the 1940s. In the story, Asimov suggested three principles to guide the behavior of robots and smart machines. Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics, as they are called, have survived to the present:
1. Robots must never harm human beings.
2. Robots must follow instructions from humans without violating rule 1.
3. Robots must protect themselves without violating the other rules.
See Rodney Brooks' Ted talk, "Why we will depend on robots"